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Cooperative Extension to give away tomato plants

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Piscataquis County will give away 300 cherry tomato plants as part of the One Tomato Project to increase the number of people growing food.

The One Tomato Project, which originated in Ontario, Canada, encourages people to plant, grow and eat more vegetables, and to give extra to food banks. The mission: “To grow healthier communities, one tomato at a time.”

Extension personnel will distribute tomato plants to county food cupboards June 13 and 20. And plants will be given away, while supplies last, the week of June 23, at the extension office at 165 East Main St., Dover-Foxcroft. People will be asked to complete a survey about their gardening experiences. Extension staff will provide information about container gardens and sign up those interested in receiving the Piscataquis & Penobscot Garden Newsletter.

“Starting a garden can be intimidating,” says Donna Coffin, Extension Educator. “But if you just start with one tomato it seems less daunting. One tomato can be grown anywhere there is full sun — in a vegetable garden, in a flower garden, in a window box, in a pot or even in a bag. With regular watering you can start harvesting in no time.”

About one-third of households nationwide grow some type of food; the typical household spends about $70 to do so and yields about $600 worth of produce, according to the National Gardening Association's 2009 report "Impact of Home and Community Gardening in America.”

Walter Boomsma, president of the Piscataquis County Extension Executive Committee, supports the project. “This is the type of program that clearly has a direct benefit to our citizens and county,” he says. “One Tomato has practical value with very little rhetoric and the potential for big returns on a relatively small investment. People can try gardening with practically no risk and discover the fun of becoming more self-sufficient and eating healthier.”

Participants will be invited to post about their plant progress on the UMaine Extension Piscataquis Facebook page. For more information, visit http://umaine.edu/piscataquis/programs/home-gardening/one-tomato/ or call (207) 564-3301 or 1-800 287-1491 (in Maine).

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